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Scandinavia Spotlight: Oslo, Norway

Norway’s enchanting capital city, Oslo, has always been among my favorite destinations in the world. Having lived in five countries and visited over a hundred more, I don’t make this claim lightly.

  • The Royal Palace
  • Oslo Harbor
  • City Hall
  • Oslo by sea
  • Donatella at the port
  • The Thief

Whether you have an afternoon cruise excursion, or four days to explore, this Scandinavian capital can wow culture lovers, foodies, and history buffs alike.  Much of it is pedestrian-friendly, with easily accessible parks and open spaces. The city really comes alive in the summer when sailboats fill the fjords and people gather for outdoor events like the Oslo Jazz Festival in August.

A few sites should be on every visitor’s list including the imposing City Hall, the Royal Palace (be sure to check out the regular changing of the guard), and the impressive Vigeland Sculpture Park. Here, at the world’s largest sculpture park by a single artist, you can marvel at more than 200 of Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron on display year-round.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

For a glimpse of what Oslo looked like a few hundred years ago, you don’t have to rely on old paintings or novels. Simply take a leisurely stroll back in time along Damstredet and Telthusbakken, two narrow streets in central Oslo lined with small wood and brick houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. These buildings are the oldest and the best preserved local architecture in Oslo today.

Another attraction not to be missed is the Oslo Opera House – a beautiful piece of modern architecture right by the harbor. Its slanted design allows visitors to easily walk to its roof, which offers excellent views of the city.

And if, like me, you’re interested in maritime marvels, don’t miss the Fram Museum, home to the strongest wooden ship ever built. The Norwegian Fram was a 19th-century, ice-defying exploration ship which reached both the North Pole and Antarctica. Hop aboard the famous vessel to see how the crew managed to stay alive in some of the harshest climates and most dangerous places on Earth. It even includes a polar simulator, so you can experience the frigid temperatures endured by the Fram’s crew.

A 15-minute stroll away, the Viking Ship Museum also is well worth a visit. On display are some of the world’s best-preserved Viking ships and artifacts retrieved from tombs around the Oslo Fjord.

And no trip to Oslo would be complete without stopping by the world-famous coffee-shop-by-day-and-cocktail-bar-by-night,Kaffefuglen. At this 1960s-style café, you can buy anything you see inside – from mugs to flatware, to furniture! Kaffefuglen is not just an excellent place for an afternoon pick-me-up, but also a beautiful monument to classic Scandinavian design.

As for accommodations, nothing compares to the distinctive and elegant hotel at Tjuvholmen, The Thief. Named “The Best Hotel in Northern Europe” by Condé Nast Traveler, The Thief is located right on the harbor overlooking the Oslofjord. In the summer months, the rooftop terrace is an excellent place to enjoy a glass of wine and soak in the views. Each of the 116 rooms and suites features a private French balcony, and the penthouse suite has a private rooftop terrace overlooking the skyline.

To craft the perfect getaway to Oslo or any of our WONDERWALL Scandinavia destinations, contact Donatella Braghieri or our Scandinavia experts at

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